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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Bloom: Automakers on the right track

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Bloom: Automakers on the right track

Nathan Hurst / Detroit News Washington Bureau

The White House's top manufacturing advisor said Michigan's auto industry is on the mend and doing better than expected.

"We see both of these companies moving forward," said Ron Bloom, President Barack Obama's senior counselor for manufacturing policy. "I think the preliminary view right now is they've learned the lessons of a near-death experience."

Bloom joined Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, for a reporters' roundtable on the state of Michigan's recovering auto industry and strategies to increase American manufacturing. He's also scheduled to speak today at the Michigan Manufacturers Association in Lansing.

Bloom said the decision to use $62 billion to keep General Motors and Chrysler from liquidating was "a very tough decision politically" for the White House, but said Michigan would be in worse economic condition today if they hadn't been saved.

"If these companies had liquidated -- do not pass 'go,' do not collect $200 -- their entire supply base would've collapsed," Bloom said.

Though American automakers benefitted from last year's popular "cash for clunkers" program that gave buyers $4,500 to trade in older, less fuel efficient vehicles for newer, more eco-friendly models, Bloom said he doesn't foresee another such program in the future.

Stabenow said that in working with her colleagues on Capitol Hill, she's seeing a shift in attitude toward the controversial bailout of the auto companies.

"People are starting to realize there's a difference between the banks and the auto companies," she said. "(GM and Chrysler) were victims of the financial crisis. They didn't cause the financial crisis."

Her comments come as Senate Democrats and Republicans face a showdown over a bill aimed at toughening regulation on Wall Street banks. On Friday, Stabenow lead a coalition of colleagues and outside experts touting the "moral imperative" for stronger bank rules.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100510/AUTO01/5100407/1148/Bloom--Automakers-on-the-right-track#ixzz0nYHhTmO2

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